Remembrance – and Remembering

Tomorrow, I’ll be joining thousands of Vancouverites in Victory Square for Remembrace Day ceremonies, remembering the sacrifices of brave men and woman through many wars. I’ll be capturing special moments on camera. So today, on Day 10 of my #NaBloPoMo adventure, I’m honouring an uncle I never knew, and also cherishing the memory of another man who meant the world to me.

My uncle, John O’Donnell, lost his life close to the end of WWII at age 23, robbed of a future, and taken from his loving family too soon. Here is the description that I discovered with the photo…

O’DONNELL, Lance Sergeant, JOHN JOSEPH, D/26811, 22nd Armd. Regt., Canadian Grenadier Guards, R.C.A.C. 26 February 1945. Age 23. Son of Frank and Ann O’Donnell, of Montreal, Province of Quebec. Grave Ref. XXII. A. 9. GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, Netherlands.

JohnO'Donnell.MontrealGrenadiers.WWII.diedMarch1945I’ll never forget the effects of war and loss on the family, friends, lovers and of everyone lost in such conflicts. But I always remember someone else on November 11th.

Back in 1969, when I was 15, I lost my grandfather, Frank O’Donnell on Remembrance Day. He was my best friend and I still feel his loss like it was yesterday. He raised eight kids in Montreal’s Pointe St. Charles neighbourhood, lost his son to war and his wife to heart disease far too early. He loved the Canadiens, Labatt 50 and Export A cigarettes. When I was a sickly infant born way too soon, he walked me up and down the hallway, whistling softly.

CAB_49701He never stopped whistling, or caring for me. I learned to say Jesus Murphy because of him! And he was a constant source of love and support to my mother and her three girls through tough times.

He called me Caddy. I adored him. I never stop remembering him.

He was a chemist. He would have liked that Dave was a chemist too.

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Love you, Gramp.

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